Yes its that time of the week folks where An Taoiseach love bombs us.
|Dear MemberThe Government’s plans for public sector reform were announced yesterday.The announcement of these measures is another phase in the roll out of our budget proposals between now and December 6. No final decisions have been made by cabinet on the measures in the budget itself and it is regrettable that a preliminary draft document setting out options which are being considered, and which was sent to the EU/IMF Troika, was released.The fact is that the reform of Government has just not been prioritised in the past. Our current economic predicament, however, means that such change is now unavoidable and yesterday’s launch was all about detailing our extensive plans to make that change.
Yes, these measures are radical, but they are also necessary, and will ultimately allow the Government to avoid being forced to inflict income tax increases on the Irish people.
What we want to do is to make Government leaner and more effective by reducing the total number of people employed in the public service to more sustainable levels, levels which we can afford. We want to make Government more cost efficient by merging some State agencies and by moving others back into Government departments.
What we are aiming for is the creation of a scaled down, more focused public service where any waste or duplication in the system will be eliminated. These measures are about everybody playing their part and about the Government being enabled to lessen the heavy burden which is being carried by the Irish people.
On Wednesday, I made a one-day trip to Berlin and Frankfurt – my first official visit to Germany as Taoiseach. Over a working lunch in her office, I briefed Chancellor Merkel on the progress Ireland is making, and she was quick to acknowledge the sacrifices and the impact of these sacrifices on our people. She also cited our country as an ideal example of how to reform.
The Chancellor outlined her views to me in respect of changes to European treaties. I, in turn, informed her of my view that, while I am not opposed to treaty change in principle, it is my belief that, now, the existing instruments should be used to tackle the immediate crisis.
Later that afternoon I addressed the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung in the city. This meeting was also attended by German Finance Minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, and I spoke to the audience there of my hope that Ireland will return to the bond markets in late 2012.
It was then on to Frankfurt for an Irish-German business event sponsored by the IDA. This event was held to mark the fact that Ireland’s two-way trade with Germany increased significantly last year while investment and tourism links have also strengthened. The evening was a wonderful celebration of Irish products, and I was impressed to hear of the remarkable success Tullamore Dew, Kerrygold and many other Irish exports are currently enjoying in Germany.
I had another first as Taoiseach yesterday when I visited Belfast.
There, I met with First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness at Stormont Castle before visiting members of the loyalist community at the East Belfast Mission on the Lower Newtownards Road. Those I met there included Progressive Unionist Party leader Billy Hutchinson. I also met the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Niall O Donnghaile and various community representatives from the Short Strand area.
It was then on to the Europa Hotel in Belfast city centre for the fifteenth annual Aisling Awards ceremony, where I presented Geraldine Finucane, widow of Pat Finucane, with an award. I also promised Geraldine that I would encourage a full public inquiry into her husband’s death by intervening with European and US leaders. I am happy to do this as I believe she has a right to know how and why her husband died.
My engagements this morning included a meeting with Belfast City Council members in advance of a meeting of the North-South Ministerial Council in Armagh and I travelled back to Dublin this afternoon for the Fine Gael Ladies’ Lunch.
I have several appointments in Limerick tomorrow and hope to take in Connacht’s first Heineken Cup home game against Toulouse in Galway later in the day. Connacht may not be traditional rugby country, but it is increasingly clear that this is beginning to change!
I was also delighted to see Ireland qualify for next summer’s European championships on Tuesday night. The atmosphere in the Aviva was nothing short of electric and I know the boys in green will certainly give all the teams they encounter next summer a real run for their money!
Enda Kenny TD